The Power Of Sleep To Unlock Your Fitness Gains

The Power Of Sleep To Unlock Your Fitness Gains

This is the final part in a 4-part series for people who are starting their journey towards getting in shape from Vickey Nolan, fitness director at West Wood Club, Dun Laoghaire 

Exhaustion, low energy and low motivation and extra hunger are four components that will rapidly diminish our drive to reach our fitness gains. Whether you're working with a personal trainer or doing classes or a programme in the gym, sleep can be the missing link to getting you into the best shape, energising you and improving your overall fitness and health. The Centre For Disease Control And Prevention state that 35 per cent of people are sleep-deprived. That's 1 in 3 of us! Chances are you can relate to this!

But why is sleep so important to your fitness results? Sleep is interlocked with recovery, growth, energy and results. Your body needs on average 7-9 hours sleep and many of us get a lot less than this. Now, if you're less active you may survive on this but if you're active during the day (AND DOING YOUR NEAT ACTIVITY) and hitting the gym, your results depend on it.


Poor Performance

Working out in a sleep-deprived state will have many negative affects on your training. You will have:

  • less energy to get through your work out
  • less strength
  • less enjoyment
  • less motivation

Rest and Recovery

Sleep is vital for recovery, particularly after exercise. When you work out, you tear muscles fibres and it’s during sleep they grow and repair so missing the sleep component will only have negative effects on your fitness journey and the extent of your gains.

Weight Gain/ Fat Loss

Lack of sleep is also linked with weight gain and obesity. Being sleep-deprived can affect your weight gain and body fat in a number of ways. Not only that when you sleep less you are typically awake for longer periods of time and have more opportunity to overeat calories during the day.

When you are tired, your body craves high-energy food and we work out less because we are tired so therefore the weight goes on.


Hormones can be thrown off including the hormones that control appetite and hunger (leptin and ghrelin.) Sleep is also essential for energy metabolism- your body can become more insulin resistant with less sleep. When sleep deprived typically have higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body which is known to lead to an increase in blood sugar, weight gain and even type 2 diabetes.

Therefore, it's vital to act now to develop good sleep habits for the sake of our health and fitness gains.

Good sleep habits

  • Go to bed at the same time. This will create a routine and help your body clock stay regulated
  • If you are aiming for 8 hours of sleep, factor in the time it takes you to sleep (9 hours in the bed). Sometimes the more tired you are, the longer it can take you to drift off!
  • Keep it cool- ensure the room is a not-too-hot, A well-ventilated room between 18-21 degrees Celsius is ideal for the perfect sleep.
  • Have your room dark., Your body is designed to sleep when its dark this will help aid your body clock to help you naturally ease into slumber
  • Limit blue light from your phone and screens before bed. Light inhibits the production of melatonin which is a hormone that is essential to help you to drift off.

Good sleep routine will have massive ramifications for you when you step in the gym. Don't take it for granted! If your feeling less enthused, tired or drained you may need to head to bed a little early or look at your overall sleep routine. Our West Wood Club personal trainers can help you identify what needs to change for your best sleep.

When to skip the work out


Be mindful and listen to your body. It is so easy to say “I’ll skip the workout today, I’m tired” but from my own personal experience working out will lift your energy, boost your mood and have you feeling better in no time and it helps you to sleep better at night. Unless you are seriously sleep-deprived, (up all night with babies, tight deadlines and long hours or just running yourself ragged),  skip the snooze button and get out and exercise even just for 20 minutes. Try something enjoyable, maybe a Yoga class, or a Les Mills Trip Class (only at West Wood Club) or a HITT session. You will be energised, feeling pumped and ready for your best sleep tonight!

For more advice on better sleeping routines our personal trainers at West Wood Club are on hand to help you maximise your health and fitness results combined with tips and hints for the best sleep ever.

SEE ALSO: Why Your NEAT Activity Is So Crucial For Getting In Shape

SEE ALSO: How To Make A Fitness Plan That Will Get You In Shape

SEE ALSO: Abs Are Made In The Kitchen: How Good Nutrition Can Lead To Getting Into Great Shape

Vickey Nolan is a Personal Trainer, General Manager, and Fitness Director at West Wood Club, Dun Laoghaire. She has a BSc (Hons) Degree in Health Promotion and Physical Activity and has been working in senior roles in the fitness and wellness industry for over 15 years. Follow Vickey on Instagram and follow West Wood Club on Instagram.

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Vickey Nolan

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